||Issue No. 278||26 August 2005|
A Secret Country
Interview: On Holiday
Unions: One Day Longer
Industrial: Never Mind the Bollocks
Politics: Spun Out
Economics: If the Grog Don't Get You ....
History: Taking a Stand
International: The Split
Legal: Pushing the Friendship
Poetry: Simple Subtractions
Review: Sydney Trashed
The Locker Room
Proof in the Pudding
Safeguards Already There
Witch Hunt Targets Priest
Australian Financial Review journalist Marcus Priest has been questioned by the Australian Federal Police over the source of a briefing from within the department of Workplace Relations, critical of the Minister's use of the building and construction code.
With two Herald Sun journalists, Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey, facing jail for refusing to name the source of information from the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Media Alliance has warned the use of AFP officers to chase down leaks from the public service had the potential to stifle public debate,
"This type of harassment of journalists is an improper application of the criminal law - it means that journalists are exposing themselves to police investigations for fulfilling their professional obligation to seek out and report on the truth," Alliance national secretary Chris Warren says.
Workers Online understands Priest, the AFR's legal affairs editor and former industrial reporter, was visited at his work and questioned by an AFP officer over the publication of a front page story citing internal advice to Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, not to use his government's building code as a political tool.
Priest refused to comment on the matter.
The briefing, compiled by officers from the Department of Workplace and Employment Relations, cautioned the Minister against withholding government funds to building companies that refused to push AWAs on their workers.
It embarrassed the Minister because he has been aggressively using the code in exactly this way, in an attempt to push building companies to pick a fight with their workers.
The Priest investigation comes as the International Federation of Journalists weights into the intimidation of Australian journalists, saying it was becoming a global issue.
'With US reporter Judith Miller currently in jail for refusing to reveal her sources, this latest case shows that the fight for protection of sources is a global issue," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
"Journalists have an ethical obligation to protect their sources. Without this protection potential whistleblowers would not leak vital information in the public interest," said White.
"Some might argue that in special circumstances this right can be waived. But this isn't one of them. There is no threat to national security here, this is just a case of the Government trying to minimise its embarrassment."
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